BRADENTON -- A deputy from the Manatee County Sheriff's Office was named Officer of the Year on Thursday night by the Manatee County Hundred Club.
Deputy Joseph Scott, 48, received a ring for having rescued a 7-year-old girl who almost drowned in a Bradenton swimming pool in 2013. He was chosen from nine nominations -- one from each county law enforcement department.
The honor was part of the Hundred Club's annual meeting and banquet at Renaissance on 9th, 1816 Ninth St.
On April 17, 2013, Scott was swimming with several children at a residence in the 200 block of 50th Street West when he noticed a girl floating face down and unresponsive in the water, according to the sheriff's office.
He administered CPR until paramedics arrived. For this act, Scott was also named 2013 Deputy of the Year by Sheriff Brad Steube.
"Any time you save a young child's life, in my book being a father, you're right up there," said Robert Ricciardo, who was elected president of the Hundred Club toward the end of the event.
The banquet, led by prayer and remarks by the Hundred Club's former Supervisor of Elections Bob Sweat, gathered members over chicken marsala, slow-roasted short ribs and fruit cobbler a la mode.
Officials presented Scott and the other nominees with plaques: Investigator John Morningstar and Officer Eric Hill from the Bradenton Beach Police Department, Officer Joel Buckson from the Florida Wildlife Commission, Cpl. David Brunner from the Florida Highway Patrol, Officer Michael Walker from the Holmes Beach Police Department, Special Agent Michael Paquin from Homeland Security Investigation, Sgt. Randy Thompson from the Longboat Key Police Department and Detective Joseph Rogers from the Palmetto Police Department.
When his name was called, a beaming Scott walked to the stage to receive the honor. His wife, Michelle Scott, looked proud.
"It's wonderful. It really is," she said after the ceremony ended. She wasn't with her husband when he rescued the girl -- she was at a track meet with their son.
With his shiny ring still in its black box, Scott recalled the moment he pulled the girl out of the pool.
"It was almost like an out-of-body experience because I laid her on the pool deck and I started CPR but I was almost like looking down on myself because training took over," he said.
The sheriff's deputy gave credit to the sheriff's office, which requires CPR training every two years.
"I was afraid," he said. "But I was very, very determined that this little girl was not going to die."
Amaris Castillo, Law Enforcement/Island Reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.